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May. 7th, 2003 | 05:59 pm
music: Ella Fitzgerald & Duke Ellington - So danco samba

Spike Milligan once said, 'Never trust a man who, if left alone in a room with a tea cosy, doesn't try it on as a hat.'

Margret said, just the other week, 'Why are your toe nails painted green?'

It is, I think you can see, all part of the same thing.

So, I'm sitting in a restaurant in London talking to Jake Arnott about wearing women's underwear. (To truly grasp quite how surreal this tableau is, you really need to know the kind of books Jake Arnott writes - http://makeashorterlink.com/?L56552464.) My thesis is that if you want to know (for some reason - perhaps you're choosing a gift) if a man is gay or not, but it feels impolite to ask outright, then merely enquire if he's ever tried on any pieces of women's underwear to see what they're like. If he replies "No" then he's *definitely* gay. No straight man in the world, who's girlfriend has popped out - temporarily leaving unguarded both him and the black thong lying with high-visibility across the back of a nearby chair - can prevent himself looking across at the garment and thinking, 'Hmmm....' For a man to say he's never tried... well - it's like Tom Robinson used to remark: 'I can always tell who's gay in the audience - they're the ones who don't sing along with 'Gl! ad To Be Gay'.' So, I express this opinion, and Jake animatedly agrees. I believe, therefore, that if both Jake *and* Mil declare something to be correct, then it can't be a mere matter of opinion or perspective, but is, unarguably, The Truth.

That established, let's change scene.

I'm getting undressed in the bedroom.

'What the hell's *that*?' asks Margret abruptly and with alarm.

This is not something you really *ever* want to hear when getting undressed in front of a woman, so I'm briefly barged into a panic of rapid self-examination. Finding nothing more depressing than usual, I check her eye line and see that she's looking at my feet. 'Why are your toenails painted green?' she asks.

I'd forgotten about this, but, relieved, I tut. 'Tch. Because I painted them green this evening, of course.'

Instead of this being the end of the matter, Margret seems to want to keep on talking. 'And... why?'

'What do you mean "why"?'

'I mean "why?".'

She's got herself stuck in a loop here, clearly. As everything has already been explained, there's not a lot I can do to help her. I have to fall back on merely going over things again, adding trivial detail.

'You went out this evening,' I say.


'Tch.' (What *is* the problem here?) 'You went out this evening... so I was left in the house on my own... and I was bored... and when I went for a pee I saw the nail varnish in the bathroom.'

'So you thought you'd paint your toe nails?'



(How did we manage to get back to that?)

'Dunno.' I shrug. 'It just seemed... I mean - you go out and leave me completely unsupervised, all evening, in a house with nail varnish in plain view... *What do you expect, for God's sake*?'

You know, I'm sure Margret would tell you that she's the level-headed one, but this just demonstrates how, sometimes, she simply has no commonsense *at all*.

OK, Americans - talk among yourselves for a moment: this next bit doesn't concern you.

The (non-US) paperback of 'Things My Girlfriend And I Have Argued About'

(http://www.amazon.co.uk/exec/obidos/ASIN/0340821159/milsapologyho-21 - same text: thinner paper, more down-market cover, choking hazard if swallowed)

was supposed to go on sale on the 22nd of June. Now, the thing is, the fifth Harry Potter book goes on sale on the 2*1*st of June.

Consequently, JK Rowling has been on the phone to me all morning, in floods of tears.

'Don't worry, Joanne,' I said, trying to calm her down.

'But, Mil, you're taking the bread from my table,' she wept. 'Who's going to buy my book when they know yours is out the very next day? Poor little David is barely three months old - how am I expected to feed and clothe him when my books will lie unsold on the shelf? Oh God - *why didn't I put some money away for a day like this*?' After that she was sobbing so wildly I couldn't really make out what she was saying.

So, to avoid putting Joanne shivering on the streets of Edinburgh once more, the publication of TMGAIHAA has been moved forward to the 15th of May. Therefore, next week, I expect each of you to rush into your local bookstore, scurry about the shelves in a squealing, searching Snoopy-dance of excitement, snatch down a copy of TMGAIHAA and race up to the desk to beg the assistant, 'Excuse me - have you got a book precisely the size of this one, please? But written by a former TV presenter or a celebrity chef.'

Oh - it's still August in Canada, by the way.

Australia? God knows.

One final small thing, which is rather embarrassing. I'm ferociously uncomfortable about doing this, but I *do*, honestly, get people emailing me saying, 'Mil? Will you be at the Hay Book Festival? Because I'd like to scream incoherent abuse into your face,' and so on. Thus, I've created a small, um, 'diary' of the few things I'm doing in the near future. I won't irritate the vast majority of you - who absolutely don't care what I'm up to and are reading this solely because you flammably loathe your jobs - by listing the things here, but the diary is at


if you do want to see it.

Right, I'm off. Back to work you lot. Though, you probably deserve another cup of coffee first, yes?


Things My Girlfriend And I Have Argued About http://homepage.ntlworld.com/mil.millington/things.html

i waste too much time online...

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